“Controlled” canteens on communities have a history of doing anything …

Comment on The elusive ‘Port Augusta model’ by Russell Guy.

“Controlled” canteens on communities have a history of doing anything but give women and kids a good night’s sleep. This week, the New Zealand government has agreed to introduce a Bill to restrict access to alcohol, but here in Alice, with a recognised crisis, curbing the underlying supply that has festered for forty years is resisted.
Research released this week by FARE reveals that “every week, on average, sixty Australians die and a further 1500 are hospitalised as a result of alcohol. A significant number of Australians continue to drink to excess, with over four million Australians reporting drinking alcohol to get drunk, and over two million doing so at least once a month”.
Those are significant numbers in any language. My analysis of alcohol induced social problems in Alice suggests that welfare reform, alcohol reform and job creation would ease this situation, while contributing to productivity, health, tourism and economic benefits to the community.
However, there is a glaring lack of an inertial guidance system. The Police Commissioner’s whole-of-community solution has a political use-by date and the ASTC’s so-called “Port Augusta” model is showing signs of blowing out and death by consultancy.
In a postmodern social policy era, this is a real challenge for those who are prepared to have a go. John Reid has suggested a public forum, but I wonder if that sort of thing works anymore. The level of bureaucratic and community dysfunction in Alice is extraordinary, but those who agree that alcohol is our biggest problem have my attention.

Russell Guy Also Commented

The elusive ‘Port Augusta model’
I’d like to add an observation relating to my post below @ May 31. NT culture is not done any favours by media outlets such as last Sunday’s ‘Territorian.’

The regular page three feature of a woman suggestively playing with her bikini reaches a new low when we are told that she is an “exotic dancer” earning money for an “orphanage” in Thailand.

Promiscuity often ends in unwanted pregnancies and is a dubious way of sponsoring an orphanage, but the ‘Territorian’ obviously sees no contradiction.

It frequently carries advertising for certain brands of beer where alcohol is used to promote the sexual objectification of
women.

It’s no surprise that the alcohol industry has failed at self-regulation, contributes campaign funding for both NT political parties and cultivates a lascivious, yobbo culture. It’s real Corporate Citizen Role Model stuff and deserving of the inaugural ‘Raw Prawn of the Year Award’.

Unfortunately, this infulence is spreading – slowly taking over roadhouses on the track between Alice and Darwin – with lewd souvenirs replacing the authentic Territory style artifact.

It’s as if we have no power to halt the decline of community standards and rescue our reputation in tourism and associated alcohol reform. One thing is certain, it won’t get any better. Fears for future generations of Territorians are well-placed.

The tragedy is that our politicians are often compromised themselves or held to ransom by a constitutency who are influenced by and support this junk culture.


The elusive ‘Port Augusta model’
Janet,
I’m glad you’re hearng the message, but you don’t get it. You and Steve have maintained the same inflexible position for the past four months. What concerns me is that you, being CLP supporters, support a backwards looking alcohol policy, while at least the NTG is moving forward on the complexity of alcohol-abuse.

Despite your incomprehension of evidence-based stats, they are making inroads into the dysfunction, unlike the CLP who wish to turn back the clock and immerse us in a gulag-style, uncosted imbroglio.

You have completely missed the point of the postmodern explanation for how we got here. Fortunately, other postings have woken up to the fact that Cr Brown, and with respect, your good self are both out of your depth in your current position.


The elusive ‘Port Augusta model’
Steve ‘Crikey’ Brown @ 30 May. I’d like to thank Cr Brown for the opportunity to explain what is meant by a postmodern era in relation to social policy, with particular reference to alcohol regulation.

Postmodernism entered the social science literature in the late-1960s as an attempt to differentiate between the modern period which began about three hundred years ago in science and the arts, leading to the present, where we are seeing the break-down of societies, not just in fiscal management, but in morality and drug abuse.

In terms of alcohol, whereby the NT Chief Magistrate contradicts Cr Brown by naming it as the biggest problem the community is facing, the UK, Scotland, Ireland and New Zealand governments have all, in recent months, drafted Bills in an attempt to curb alcohol-abuse.

In Australia, the situation is well referenced by anyone who has kept tabs on the debate during the past four months in the AS News, something which Cr Brown has of late referred to as having risen to “ridiculous” levels.

In Alice Springs, the “symptom” he refers to as the result of “a much bigger, deeper problem” is arguably the other way around.

The supply of pure alcohol in a standard drink, multiplied by the quantity consumed in any given 24 hour period, by the amount of money available has produced pathological statistics, the latest of which I have referred to in my post below, quoting FARE’s research on Australian, alcohol-related morbidity.

The social and bureaucratic dysfunction in Alice Springs, relates specifically to the mechanisms of alcohol supply, welfare benefits and employment creation for the majority of the so-called ‘problem drinkers’ who just happen to be blackfellas. Is that a co-incidence, I wonder?

Interestingly, the FARE research at a national level, indicates that a majority of whitefellers have a problem with alcohol and that is also the case in Alice Springs.

By analysing social policy pertaining to alcohol regulation against the abuse-related statistics during the past forty years in Alice Springs, we can easily arrive at an analysis of why such modern policy has caused alcohol-induced social dysfunction. This has been presented, locally, NT-wide and nationally and is still incoming as a major cause of concern and expense in a contracting economy.

By applying a postmodern approach (which is really common sense, however uncommon among community leaders) to policy making, it is possible to change the course of history, because, as I’m sure even Cr Brown is aware, if we don’t learn from history, we are condemned to suffer the consequences.

NT Government and NT Opposition alcohol policies differ widely. It would be encouraging to be able to think that the NT electorate would consider policy, rather than politics for the future good of the whole community.


Recent Comments by Russell Guy

Alcohol floor price may breach Australian Constitution
The fact that no action is being taken by the Winemakers Federation, preferring instead to work with the NT Government; that there have been no casks larger than two litres in the NT for several years and in Alice Springs for several more, because they are banned, we should be encouraged by their example, along with other retailers who have shown similar intent.
Tourist tipple and alcohol problems in the NT are interrelated. In a recent post, I pointed out the illogic of sacrificing current levels of visible alcohol-related harm to the tourist economy, which will only cause further decline.
The Mandatory Treatment Act (2013), since repealed, highlighted how harmful and disempowering alcohol restrictions can be, particularly where Indigenous communities have not been involved in their development.
While Steve Brown appears to consider it a “do gooder” issue and appeals for ice containment, he ignores the need for alcohol supply restriction in the general community, a product, it could be argued, of laissez faire capitalism over 50 years, culminating in corner stores trading in takeaway alcohol seven days a week.
Mr Brown compounds his approach by wishing that crystal methamphetamine (ice) was not a problem, allegedly within Indigenous communities.
It would be better if he, and others of a similar opinion, evinced the same desire for alcohol management through community coalitions backed by government regulation or government‐initiated community partnerships, which according to a recent article in the Australian and New Zealand Public Health Journal, “have been successful in harnessing local knowledge and Indigenous social systems to curb the unintended impacts of alcohol regulation”.
The article revealed that improved health and social outcomes, for example, by tethering demand reduction programs to supply restrictions had been achieved.
Outrage over the disempowerment of Grey Nomads to purchase a cask of cheap wine, while the harmful use of alcohol among Territorians continues at levels in excess of the national average, ignores the possibility of a community-led solution, even when governments repeal poorly consulted legislation such as the MTA.
In the mid-1980s, Territorians died from being stabbed by glass flagons. Casks were introduced by governments working with the winemakers and less harm eventuated.
It didn’t curtail harmful levels of consumption, nor the granting of takeaway licenses, but the NT Government, acting on recommendations from Justice Riley’s Report, is facing up to the cost of those unacceptable levels and investigating ways of working with the underlying cultural problems.
Learning from history on which evidence-based legislation like soft packaging and a demand reduction floor price is based seems more appropriate than sticking one’s head in the sand.


Ice Age in Alice
Four balls coming back over the net. Policy on the run.
@ Local 1: Comparing Queensland with the NT is apples and oranges. Been crossing the border all my life, not just for a week.
@ Steve Brown: I want to see evidence for your claims, not just anecdotal. Been there.
@ John Bell: Commonsense has been missing in action and @ Paul Parker, same thing.
Tolerance, common sense and reason were the founding values of the European Enlightenment. Not going well.
Finally, to all, I speak for myself, not for PAAC, whose evidence-based campaign assisted the NT Government in micro-managing the issue of liberal alcohol supply with a floor price. The claim that it makes all alcohol more expensive is incorrect.


Ice Age in Alice
The floor price is not a “silver bullet.”
There is none. There are only a suite of measures to reduce levels of supply, including the BDR.
A floor price targets the cheapest alcohol sold, mostly cask wine, consumed by the most desperate addicts, including pregnant women.
Canada and Scotland have a floor price.
It was introduced this week in the NT after a long evidence-based campaign.
Cynicism is an easy choice, but I’ve been involved in reducing alcohol-related harm in the NT since 1986 when I produced four songs with Indigenous band, Coloured Stone for the NT Road Safety Board.
If you allow yourself to get cynical and negative about drugs, of which alcohol is one of the most prevalent, then you might as well accept the carnage as inevitable.
Take the opposition over the recent Master’s Games request by the police for light and midstrength beer.
One of your readers posted anonymously, calling those who lobby to turn the tap down a “mob” who are only interested in prohibition. That’s hysteria.
The NT Government is currently looking into the seven days a week take away grog licensing regime.
Australia has a culture of alcoholism, particularly around sport.
Changing that culture, currently costing NT taxpayers $640m p.a. is a positive step towards putting money into ice rehab.


Apex Club ‘fenced out’ of running Masters Games bars
@ “Ray”. My argument for turning the tap down (not off, as you insinuate with your anonymous post), exposes your confusion, but it clarifies one point.
It will be hypocritical for you to point to the Indigenous as being responsible for the town’s social problems again.
While you busy yourself over being “the laughing stock of the country”, the hospital and police records continue to speak for themselves and show no sign of abating, due to what is a culture of alcoholism.
It was the police who requested light and midstrength beer be served at this sporting event.
As an attendee at last Friday’s National Police Remembrance Day, the names of those officers who were killed in the line of duty was sobering, yet they who we appoint to serve and protect are fobbed off.
Justifying the capitulation on the economy and giving back to the “community” is evidence of your confusion, but as cultural tourism is the vogue, it will be interesting to see how long before you start referring to “the section of the community that has the issue” again.


Apex Club ‘fenced out’ of running Masters Games bars
Why such despondency, “Ray”?
The streets of Alice Springs are paved with gold if you have eyes to see.
They need not be awash with the consequences of alcoholism.
Turn the tap down (not off) and you will see how a great town can come back from fifty years of an uncapped flow.


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